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Read the whitepaper to discover what considerations your business needs to be taking into account for its own roadmap out of lockdown, and the steps you need to take to safeguard your people whatever your plan and circumstance.
A year on from the start of the first UK national lockdown, businesses have found themselves having to adapt rapidly and often, in order to meet the needs of an unprecedented global situation. In order to continue safeguarding their future success, many organisations found it vital to adapt the process of bringing new people into the workforce. 12 months on, this has presented business leaders and HR professionals with an unusual dynamic where certain employees- or in some cases, entire teams- may have spent their entire time with the organisation working in a remote capacity, having never engaged with their colleagues face to face.
This poses a unique challenge for HR teams who have to create a welcoming and friendly onboarding experience for new starters in a virtual setting. Similarly, managers and team leaders are trying to reconcile the challenges of employee assessment and performance management with a remote model. As we progress along the roadmap out of lockdown, the prevailing feeling among businesses is leaning towards a split model of working from home and within the office environment. The challenge for HR professionals and leaders moving forward, is how best to embrace this new format, foster strong working relationships and ensure high levels of employee engagement are maintained while onboarding employees through a mix of virtual and in-person inductions. Discussions also need to be had with your new starter before they start work around their ability to travel to the office - do they have access to personal transport? If public transport is their only option, how safe do they feel using it? At the onboarding stage, it’s critical that you set out any travel schemes that your company may provide such as company cars, or any local travel schemes or cycle routes they can take advantage of.
One of the key challenges with remote onboarding is bridging the gap between the function of HR and IT. Many organisations will be providing equipment such as laptops or monitors to help facilitate the ease of their employees working from home. HR teams should ensure discussions are had around requirements for equipment when inducting new starters, this allows clear lines of communication between HR and IT, avoiding lag time in getting new employees set up and working, whilst also providing visibility of equipment allocated.Given the readiness with which companies have already pivoted to virtual platforms, it is only logical that they will be looking to further develop their use of technology to enhance the employee experience and to support the framework of employee assessment and feedback. Think about how you can use video-conferencing to bring together new employees and their teams, all in different locations, without making it feel like they are being paraded on show for their new colleagues.
The shift towards adopting new technologies is one of the key ways that workplaces can make the most of this new hybrid working model. Developments are moving in line with the demand to improve the employee experience, such as improved virtual meeting platforms with more intuitive screen sharing technologies. As innovation and functionality is driven onwards by increasing demand, technology to support remote interaction will continue to be seen as an asset for organisations and one of the most effective ways to blur the delineation between remote and face to face working.
Along with the adoption of technology, HR professionals and business leaders would be wise to mesh new process with an open minded approach, particularly with regards to recruitment and onboarding. The pandemic has been a time of great upheaval for everybody, but it still hasn’t reduced the need for young people to enter the workforce. 12 months on from the first lockdown, it’s very likely that many organisations have people on their payroll who’s only experience of work will have been in a remote capacity. As we look to head towards a hybrid working model, HR professionals will have to be minded of potential culture shock for these new employees as they are introduced to an office setting. With interviews shifting to a virtual setting, organisations could look into folding virtual tours of the office space into the process. Not only is getting a sense of the new workplace an important consideration when job hunting, these tours also allow the employee a forum to ask questions around how the workplace has been made Covid safe and what a day in the life of your business could look like. Keeping open regular lines of communication, as well as laying out clear induction plans and introducing virtual social functions to help make the transition as seamless and welcoming as possible.
The recruitment process is one that has undergone a fundamental shift during the course of the pandemic. HR professionals have had to contend with meeting the demands of the wider organisation in terms of bringing on board talent whilst adapting to a virtual model. Much as with the wider question of staff meetings, the processes and technologies in place can determine the viability of the new working arrangement. Effective video calling technology, coupled with Cloud based HR systems can ensure that lines of communications between hiring teams and prospective employees remains fast and efficient. Having a greater degree of visibility over employee availability also allows for teams to be in the office at the same time which will be invaluable in making the induction process a more friendly affair. As organisations adapt to the new normal, the accessibility of remote interview procedures could be seen as a deciding factor in an applicant’s assessment of your organisation and a willingness to adopt new technology could very well be seen as a key metric of future company cultures.
A key indicator of an organisation which is willing to embrace the new face of the workforce, is likely to be the readiness with which they adopt new technologies. With increasing numbers of members of Generation Z entering the workforce, companies should ensure that they are embracing a level of technological literacy that lines up with the expectations of the younger generation. Companies who are beholden to older, slower attitudes towards taking up new advancements in technology, run the risk of appearing less attractive as a brand, especially when trying to bring in new blood to the organisation.
New systems can also help ease the burden of handling employee assessments and target meetings. Effective HR systems mean that you can push through instant company updates regarding travel arrangements or health and safety measures and allow team leaders to schedule team specific meetings to fit around flexible working schedules. Cloud based systems also make employee assessments a far more accessible experience by enabling both employee and manager to have clear and constant visibility of goals set. With many businesses planning on reducing the amount of office space they own or rent, strategically planning for teams to be in at the same time will be key to integrating new employees and building a solid team spirit. Adopting new technologies will be an asset in enabling regular check-ins and ensuring that your HR professionals never feel disconnected from the greater needs of your employees.
Adopting systems such as these also allow a greater overview of your employee’s individual needs. By making employee engagement and assessment sessions an easily accessible and flexible affair, HR teams are able to communicate regularly with employees and touch base regarding any changes to their personal circumstances. This allows employees and leaders to collaborate in building a work schedule that benefits all parties. There has never been a more opportunistic time to build a working pattern that is truly employee-centric, finding out about their preferences and domestic circumstances will be vital to building a flexible hybrid model of working that works around your people and your business.
It’s clear that as we progress out of lockdown, businesses are already demonstrating a great willingness to embrace change. The greater challenge ahead will be how take on board the lessons we have learned from remote working and to consider how to apply them sympathetically and intelligently to the new potential hybrid working model. HR professionals have proven themselves to be extremely adaptable and resilient over the past 12 months, however, worries around the viability of onboarding in a hybrid working environment is still of great concern for many. Organisations will need to think now about how to embrace the changing workforce structure and what steps they can take in order to make that onboarding process as seamless and inclusive as possible.
Developments in technology continue to move at pace in order to meet the demands of the new working world and will undoubtedly play an integral role in safeguarding the future productivity and profitability of businesses across the nation. For information on how you can prepare for the future of hybrid working, read our new whitepaper to learn more.
Want to find out more about what the future of onboarding might look like in a changing world? Read the whitepaper to discover what considerations your business needs to be taking into account for its own roadmap out of lockdown, and the steps you need to take to safeguard your people whatever your plan and circumstance.